NORWAY—October 2019. With more than a thousand fjords, Norway is more than just a tourist destination of breathtaking beauty—it’s also the world’s leading producer of farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The fjords, a result of millions of years of glacial activity, are the linchpin of the country’s aquaculture industry. They are deep inlets of oceanwater, protected by steep mountainsides, and they have water that is saline, cold and kept clean by strong water currents—perfect for farming salmon.
Geography isn’t the only factor contributing to the industry’s efficiency, and therefore profitability, though. Norway is committed to renewable energy, and the entire country runs on hydroelectricity. And salmon farming, which is quite energy-intensive, benefits from that. Read More >
When scanning the dining options in your cafeteria, do you notice any descriptions that are meant to make the food more attractive, such as “cage-free,” “local,” or “sustainable?” I do. With these labels, it’s clear that food service management companies are trying to sell more food by appealing to their customers’ values. But I’ve also taken note of which values the food service management company does not use to market their products—for example, “supports small- and mid-size farms” or “living wage for workforce.” These observations made me curious about which values these companies choose to prioritize, and why. Read More >
There has been a lot of attention recently on the fact that emissions from agriculture and food production account for a significant proportion of the global total and must fall if we want to meet the UN climate goal of no more than 1.5 degrees warming. This attention and awareness are welcome, as is the willingness at an individual level in some countries to reduce meat and dairy consumption to help save the planet. For example, a third of consumers in the UK have reportedly either reduced or eliminated meat from their diet, while around half of the Dutch population call themselves “flexitarians.”
However, we need to be careful about oversimplifying things or prescribing a “one-size-fits-all”, western-centric, solution to the challenges of diet and climate. For any diet-related climate change solution to be sustainable, it must also address the problems of under nutrition, obesity, poverty, and economic development. Read More >
VIETNAM—August 2019. “The Mekong River is the heart and arteries of the region,” says researcher Dave Love. “All business is conducted on the river. The feed comes in by boat. The fish go out by boat. Everything you want to do is done by boat and motor bike.”
Love, an associate scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, traveled to Vietnam in July and August (2019) to learn more about how Vietnamese farmers raise Pangasius, a species of catfish. Vietnam is the epicenter of Pangasius production, and it has been the largest exporter of catfish to the United States, although an ongoing trade dispute is changing that. He and research partners Mark Brown and Ly Nguyen from the University of Florida met with farmers and other industry stakeholders to gather data about how the farmers use energy, how they use resources and what kind of waste is created in the operations. Giap Nguyen from University Economics Ho Chi Minh City worked alongside Love, Brown and Ly Nguyen as a translator. Read More >
When agricultural researcher and entrepreneur Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin visited the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), we were able to chat with him about what he’s up to these days. What began as an interview with this thought leader about the externalized costs of the food system and the true cost of food, topics at the heart of CLF’s research, became a conversation about regenerative agriculture, lawsuits, price tags and reform.
Working with the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance in Minnesota, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is the architect and engineer behind the regenerative poultry system, one of many farm operations at the the 100-acre farm in Northfield, through the Main Street Project. His approach to regenerative agriculture involves a biodiverse system of symbiotically connected livestock and perennials, building soil, cleaning water and delivering economic benefits with no chemical inputs. Read More >
This post is the sixth in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.
Should farmers who raise thoroughbred horses receive the same regulatory exemptions as those who grow vegetables? How about farmers who grow tobacco, flowers, or corn for ethanol, or who raise animals for fur coats? These are the questions that emerged in the forefront of my mind as I waded through the hundreds of pages of data contained in the recently released 2017 Census of Agriculture. The census is a treasure trove of information that paints a picture of the current state of farms, farmers, and farming in the United States—and, importantly, it reminded me that agriculture is not limited to food production. Read More >
When rancher and businessman Bill Niman visited the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), we were able to chat with him about his current enterprise and ideas. What began as an interview with this thought leader about the externalized costs of the food system and the true cost of food, topics at the heart of CLF’s research, became a conversation about animal welfare, regenerative agriculture and reform.
Bill Niman is a well-known figure in the ranching world, having spent more than 40 years raising livestock in humane and sustainable ways. Along with his wife Nicolette Hahn Niman, he has consistently spoken out about a number of controversial issues related to livestock production, including the misuse of antibiotics, animal welfare and the climate benefits of pasture-based production. Read More >
The world is beginning to understand that our food systems play a role in climate change—and that by improving our food systems now we might be able to mitigate some of the more devastating shifts in climate yet to come. With more than 20 years of experience investigating the negative consequences of our food systems, especially industrial food animal production, the Center for a Livable Future has gained tremendous insight into the associated externalities of the predominant model, one of which is climate change. Other externalities we’ve focused on include antibiotic resistance and environmental degradation, to name a couple.
Across the board, I’ve noticed expanded interest in the connections between food systems and climate action, from the United Nations to nonprofit sustainability organizations to chefs to research institutions to Google to the Prince of Wales. So finally, the interest and will to make positive change is there, from a wide group of stakeholders. But I fear we don’t have much time. We must get our act together and be bold—but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do this in a way that’s not only practical, but fair. Read More >
Successes in food policy work can make a big difference, from empowering urban farmers to putting food recovery plans into action. But policy work can lack glitz. And when the successes happen, they’re often a long time in materializing.
So, it helps to have peers in other cities and counties with whom to share knowledge gleaned from both the successes and the failures. But it’s not always easy to develop connections with those peers. Read More >
In 1933, President Roosevelt’s New Deal included the creation of the first-ever Farm Bill, a response to the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the epic drought disaster that was devastating the agriculture sector in the United States. Today, the goals and impact of the Farm Bill couldn’t be any further from what was intended almost 90 years ago. Read More >